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ASUU threatens industrial action over non-payment of members’ salaries

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has threatened to embark on an industrial action if the 13 months’ salaries of over 1,000 of its members across the country were not paid.

Dr. Lazarus Maigoro, Chairman, University of Jos chapter of the union, who stated this in a statement on Saturday, in Jos, added that the Federal Government had also withheld the check-off dues of the affected members.

He accused Ahmed Idris, the Accountant General of Federation (AGF), for systematically denying the lecturers their remuneration, even after government and the union had reached an agreement on non-victimisation of its members following their last strike.

The chairman alleged that the affected members were being threatened to either enrol into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) platform, or have their salaries withheld.

He explained that despite the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari, that members of the union be paid their full remuneration, the AGF had denied the affected union members their pay, in complete violation of the terms of the agreement signed between the union and government.

Maigoro said that the office of the AGF had continued to feed the public and some sections of government with false reasons over the matter, such as incorrect BVN numbers, incorrectly spelt names and their sequential arrangement, among others.

He, however, added that such excuses were not tenable, because the bursary departments of their various institutions had submitted the names severally to the authorities, but the problem had continued to persist.

“ASUU wants to bring to the attention of the Nigerian public the deliberate, systematic and unpatriotic actions of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, on the future of education in Nigeria.

” Idris, from all intent and purposes, is bent on withholding the salaries of over 1,000 members of ASUU spread across the country, with more than 100 of such lecturers being members of our branch at the University of Jos.

“This is simply because they participated in the last strike and refused to enrol in the much discredited IPPIS, despite the non-victimisation clause signed in the Memorandum of Action (MoA) that led to the suspension of the strike in December 2020.

“Despite the directive given by Mr President to pay the salaries of all lecturers, the AGF has refused to pay their salaries, for periods ranging from four to thirteen months, respectively.

”More worrisome is the fact that while the AGF is refusing to pay the salaries, his staff are busy calling the affected lecturers and insisting they have to register with IPPIS before they are paid; some are even asked to forfeit a part of their salaries in order to be paid. So, it is very clear that this is a deliberate act on the part of the AGF and his staff.

“Many of our members at the University of Jos have not been paid salaries from February 2020 to date. How they are expected to go to the classroom and teach beats my imagination.

“It is not news, that our union have vowed to fight back at any cost in order to salvage our colleagues from his tyranny and unpatriotic act against not just ASUU members, but the future of education in Nigeria and so, if nothing is urgently done, we will be forced to take action,” Maigoro said.

“The union has gotten to a stage where it may be forced to take drastic measures to save the lives and families of its members because their despair is also our collective despair.

Maigoro also said that the inability of government to pay other allowances, such as sabbatical, visiting, part time and contract staff was also destroying the university system in the country.

“Apart from the refusal to pay the salaries of our members, the lack of payment of allowances of sabbatical, visiting, part-time, contract staff is further killing the federal universities in Nigeria, and this is all because of IPPIS.

“We hope that whatever decision the union takes, will not be misconstrued by the Nigerian public, especially seeing the seeming silence of the public and the government over the complete violation of our 2020 MoA,” he said

Maigoro called on President Buhari to wade into the matter, in order to save the affected members, as well as the future of education in Nigeria. (NAN)



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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months


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A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Airways will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.
  • The airline in a notice to its customers yesterday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.

The airline in a notice to its customers Monday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

The airline will then resume full operations on the route on September 20, flying three times per week on the Indian route, which is one of the most lucrative destinations on its network.

Passengers on the route will part with Sh46,000 ($419) for one-way air ticket on economy class seats from Nairobi to Mumbai- prices that are relatively the same compared to what it was charging before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Welcome back onboard! Fly from Nairobi to Mumbai starting Thursday 16th September with normal schedules resuming from Monday 20th September 2021,” said the airline in a notice to its customers yesterday.

KQ Suspended passenger flights to and from Mumbai on April 30 until further notice, following a government directive on travel between India and Kenya due to a Covid-19 crisis in that country.

The airline said on Friday that passengers who had booked tickets after May 1, the date of the last flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, will have to change their plans.

Affected passengers, KQ said, could also take vouchers for the value of their fare for future travel within 12 months.

India has seen soaring infection rates in the recent days, since the discovery of a new virus variant. Last month, India put on lockdown one of the states following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Other countries that have banned flights to India include France, the UK Bangladesh, Oman and Hong Kong that have banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate themselves in government-approved hotels.

India has so far detected 33,264,175 corona virus cases with the number of deaths hitting 442,874 as at September 13.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.



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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs


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Man pulls a cart loaded with second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

The average price of a tonne of second-hand clothing items imported into the country crossed the Sh100,000 mark for the first time last year on reduced volumes in the wake of safety protocols and guidelines to curb spread of coronavirus.

Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.

Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

Last year’s drop was the first dip since 2011 when 76,533 tonnes were shipped in compared with 80,423 tonnes the previous year, the official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The import bill for the merchandise amounted to Sh12.24 billion, a drop of 31.11 percent, or Sh5.53 billion, year-on-year.

TIn imposing the temporary ban on used clothes, Kebs had applied a standard which prohibits buying second-hand clothes from countries experiencing epidemics to ensure disease-causing microorganisms are not imported into Kenya.

Higher quality and relatively lower prices for mitumba has continued to drive demand for used clothes at expense of locally-made products amid higher margins enjoyed by traders largely operating in informal markets.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market has seen traders from China —a key source market for the merchandise —open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba, in recent years to cash in rising demand.

Earnings from exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 5.32 percent to Sh32.92 billion last year compared with 2019, data indicates.



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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud


Cotu boss Francis Atwoli

Cotu boss Francis Atwoli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.
  • Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.

Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

Mr Atwoli is the secretary-general of KPAWU. The rival union claimed KPAWU had encroached on its area of workers’ representation.

Justice James Rika, however, dismissed the claim and ruled that the dispute should have been taken through conciliation, and was therefore presented in court prematurely.

He also stated that Kefhau must go beyond its registration and recruit sufficient members from the employers, to be granted recognition and organisational rights.

“Registration on its own, does not afford the claimant (Kefhau) recognition. Until there is proof that Kefhau has satisfied Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the status quo must be maintained,” said the judge.

“Kefhau must recruit at least 50 percent plus one, of the unionisable employees in the floriculture and horticulture industry, members of the Agricultural Employers Association to be considered for recognition,” he stated.

He noted that there is a Recognition Agreement and CBA, binding Mr Atwoli’s union and Agricultural Employers Association, affecting 73 Flower Growers Group of employers, and over 60,000 employees.

“It is objectionable for Kefhau to be allowed organisational rights, and the legitimacy to receive trade union dues and agency fees, from over 60,000 employees, just on the strength of registration as a trade union,” said the judge.

Kefhau wanted the court to declare that it is the sole trade union, which is allowed by its constitution to carry out activities in the export floriculture and vegetable industry, and an order restraining Mr Atwoli’s from representing workers in that area.



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